Isseroff; Hamas must be “decisively defeated and eliminated”

By Ted Belman

In Ami Isseroff’s latest article Israel and Hamas: Half a loaf may be poisonous he comes out against half measures such as the siege.

    Israeli half-measure actions against extremist groups force domestic opponents of those groups to side with their political enemies. This is true even though, for example, it is obvious that Fatah are committing political and possible physical suicide by calling for an end to the siege of Gaza, which would empower Hamas. It would be even more unhealthy for Fatah to fail to support the Hamas at this point.

    Pressure on civilian population is certainly not going to help either. Civilians are either powerless or support the Hamas moves. Hamas’ popularity increased significantly when they succeeded in opening the border to Egypt for a brief time.

    Amir Oren and Robert Baer both note that the Hamas success in breaching the Rafah barrier makes a large scale Israeli attack in Gaza much more likely. But the options again, are not appetizing. Israel can take over the Rafah crossing, but IDF presence anywhere in Gaza in the long run is going to be an attractant to suicide bombers as well as an issue that is ideal for gathering support for the Hamas war against the Israeli “occupation.” Hamas may break out into Israel if IDF controls Rafah. Israel can invade northern Gaza in an attempt to stop the rockets, but of course they will return as soon as Israel leaves. Israel can target Hamas leaders, as it has killed Sheikh Yassin and Achmed Rantissi in the past, but that didn’t seem to set the Hamas back very much either.

Right, right and right.

    Hamas is a threat at many levels, not just to Israel, but to the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the American sponsored peace process and Arab world moderates. Hamas is a strategic threat to Israel. For any such threat, one has to decide whether to contain it and last it out, as the US did with the USSR, or to confront it decisively and eliminate it, as was done with Nazi Germany. If the latter decision is made, the only acceptable “agreement” is unconditional surrender, and the only open option is total war. Hamas will not listen to “persuasion” and half-measures will only make it stronger. Before the decision to go to war is made, every option for solving the problem of Hamas with international support must be explored. Even if no support is forthcoming, as happened with diplomatic efforts that preceded the Six Day War, a serious diplomatic effort will help to explain the Israeli position to the world and garner at least passive support for any military action.

Right on.

    Those who attack government inaction and incompetence in dealing with Hamas are correct. Israel doesn’t have either a strategic or a tactical plan. It didn’t have a plan to deal with the Hamas breakout or with the consequences of the fuel cut, and it doesn’t have a plan to deal with the Hamas PR campaign and international pressure that will result from the electricity cuts. If Gazans overrun the border with Israel, it will be evident that the IDF and the government have no plan to deal with that either.

    But those who advocate immediate military action are blowing smoke, because anything short of total Israeli victory in this case will mean defeat, and victory is not possible if Israel acts now. If five Hamas members are left alive and free in Gaza, they will proclaim “victory” as Hezbollah did in Lebanon. In Lebanon, Hezbollah managed to paralyze the government on the basis of its “victory” and the IDF failure. Hamas would certainly take over the West Bank and become undisputed rulers of the Palestinian areas if the Gaza operation is a repeat of the Second Lebanon war for the IDF.

    A Gaza operation would exact a huge toll of casualties on both sides. It is impossible to soften up populated areas of Gaza with artillery or aerial bombardment, because the number of civilian casualties would be unacceptable. Hamas may also purposely put civilians in the path of a ground attack, to achieve the PR triumph of showing unarmed Arab women and children facing Israeli tanks.

I do not rule out such a campaign. That is why I have asked for a legal advice from an international lawyer schooled and experienced in armed conflict to advise the IDF how aggressive Israel can be. With the diplomatic support of the US and the EU, both of whom want to see the end of Hamas, anything is possible.

    In order to carry out such an operation, IDF needs time. It cannot be interrupted by UN imposed cease fires that leave the other side in a position to recover. It must not be forced to leave Gaza before the Hamas movement is eradicated in the same way that the National Socialist Workers Party was destroyed in Germany after World War II. That is why the international position must be well prepared before any action is taken. Israel must also have a clear picture of what it is going to do with Gaza after Hamas is liquidated. It won’t do to return to the former situation of occupation. In addition to taking its case to the world, Israel should be doing everything in its power to ensure that whatever deterrent measures are taken, are aimed only at Hamas and not at Palestinian civilians, because Hamas uses the “humanitarian” issue to score large propaganda victories. That means that rather than cutting electricity or supplies, Israel should be looking for ways to ensure the welfare of the population despite Hamas.

    But there is also a limited window for such an operation. We should not exaggerate the prowess of the Hamas at present. They have small arms, some anti-tank weapons and mines. They don’t have artillery and air power. But they have already managed to dig in their rocket emplacements in the same way as the Hezbollah did in Lebanon, and they are probably constructing Hezbollah type bunkers all the time. It will be harder and harder to eliminate them without paying a heavy price. Additionally, if Hezbollah in the meanwhile also succeeds in taking over the government of Lebanon, an attack on Gaza would probably mean a renewal of the Hezbollah rocket attacks, which could be carried out using long range rockets, launched from well behind the lines of UNIFIL.

    The price Israel will pay for any action in Gaza will not be measured in lives only. Most of those who advocate immediate action in Gaza are right wing politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters. They should take into account that an inevitable consequence of a successful Israeli operation in Gaza will inevitably bolster the peace process and almost certainly lead to a quartet-enforced peace agreement in which Israel will ultimately cede Gaza and most of the West Bank to a Palestinian state. Eradicating Hamas is not only a prerequisite for peace, it will also be an inevitable catalyst for ending the occupation. The United States and other countries could not justify support for an Israeli operation in Gaza to the Arab world unless it had a “happy end” for the Palestinian people and the Arab side.

I too have recognized that removing Hamas will liberate the peace process and articulated my views in Don’t Destroy Hamas, Just Yet. In my view, it should only be done when a right-of-center government is in power so that the peace process can be stopped by upping Israel’s demands.

    On the other hand, those “peace activists” who are yelling for an “end to the siege of Gaza” must understand that unless the siege is ended by an Israeli victory over Hamas or international action, if they get their wish, there will be no peace ever. Ending the siege under the terms offered by Hamas will enslave the Palestinians and guarantee the continuation of the conflict.

In the short term, they are our salvation.

February 9, 2008 | 3 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. The fight that isn’t:

    Israel could defeat Hamas in a Jew-York minute if they wanted to. Hamas in Gaza is penned into a small area that could be wiped out in a short time. Or Israel could push the Gazans into the Sinai and reclaim Gaza. Or Israel could bomb the Gaza electricity plant, and its fuel stores, and its infrastructure, and keep on doing so every time Hamas continues to launch rockets. Or they could use mines and cluster bombs to create an ever expanding no-man’s land between the Jewish and Arab populations.

    But instead, they turn their own cities and people into sitting ducks waiting to be blown up by the Philistinian savages.

    So what’s up? Firstly, the Ehud Olmert/Ehud Barak/Israeli Supreme Court government sucks, but that goes without saying, and it is not at all clear that Netanyahu, who talks the talk when he is out of power, will actually be any better when he is back in power.

    So let’s cut through the Newspeak fog, and start with America. America takes its own volunteer Army, and orders their guys to drive up and down the roads in Iraq until they are sooner or later blown up by roadside bombs, and that’s their great strategy to “win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people”. So do you think that that Bush/Rice/Pelosi/Obama/Clinton America is going to give Israel a green light to destroy Hamas once and for all?

    Here’s Bush: “a viable “contiguous” Palestinian state within a year”. Rice: the Israeli occupation of Palestine reminds me of how white southerners treated blacks when I was young”. The State Department mantra: “Although we fully recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, we caution them against collective punishment, harming innocent civilians, causing excess damage, or carrying out extra-judicial execution of terrorists.” (And when you do the math, what exactly does that leave?)

    But at least America is Israel’s “friend”. What about the eternal Jew haters: the European children of the Nazis? Can you believe their chutzpa? They not only savagely murdered six million (almost half) of the world’s Jews, and successfully made Europe Judenrein, but that’s not near good enough for them. Although the Israeli Jews fled thousand of miles to get away from them, they will never leave them alone. If a “Nazi- Israeli occupier” merely farts upwind from a poor oppressed helpless Philistinian, then the rabid Europeans threaten Israel with embargos, international war crimes, and label Israel as “the greatest threat to world peace!” And then they proceed to give the Philistinians money to buy bombs to blow up Israeli babies, and sell Iran the material it wants to nuke Israel.

    It’s like we say every Pessakh: But in every generation, the goyim stand over us to destroy us, but the Holy One, the Source of all Blessing, saves us from their hands. But only if we make at least some token effort to save ourselves first. So Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.

  2. That means re-establishing the Gush Katif. If I was Israel, I’d dump a million Arabs in northern Sinai. Let them become Hosni Mubarak’s problem to manage. Of course, there would have to be an Israeli government courageous enough to inflict a decisive defeat upon the Gaza Arabs and show them it doesn’t pay to destroy Israel. In the end its not a question of means but of will. The latter being in short supply in Israel’s present government.

  3. As usual I disagree with both Ted and Isseroff: the only way to defeat an enemy is to defeat them so that there is no doubt to anyone that they are defeated, Now is the best time for an invasion as America is in the middle of election campaign and it is doubtful there is any will to force anything negative on Israel. The quartet without America is toothless and rudderless. Most Gazans would welcome an Israeli takeover and those that do not we either kill or deport.There will be loss of life but nowhere near the fear mongering put out by the Israeli left. Gaza unlike Lebanon is flat & compact and the sea is to their backs, We are by now very experienced in urban warfare. It might be tough but with proper leadership I don’ see it becoming nearly as difficult as leftist scare talk would have us believe. We take Gaza finish off Hamas then wait to see who blinks first! Abbas is a dead duck today or tomorrow it matters little without IDF in J & S he would be long gone by now . Hamas can’t do what it wants as IDF controls for all practical reason all of J & S. We decide not Abbas or Hamas who controls what. Egypt as usual is playing a double game siding with or closing their eyes to Hamas as what their short term end game is to reduce Sinai buffer zone to zero. the Egyptians are preparing for the next war with us and Hamas is only one weapon they would like to employ against us. Forget about Peace Processes and Talks etc. we must reverse the whole Post Oslo mindset and regain our old selves. Gaza is the place to begin in earnest. That will send a message to all concerned that we (Israel)is back and we will not be moved so easily this time. By the way Tell Ami that BB is not a right winger at least anymore. call him and likud Centrist at best!!

    Ami as usual does a fair job od lining up his duck but his conclusions are always incorrect as they rely on his left wing mindset.